An Open Letter to Google: Release (Not Provided) Keyword Data
You win Google.
There, I said it, are you happy?
We (the Internet marketing community) get it; you hold the marketing life of every business in your hand. You know it, and we know it.
You hold power over every SEO, so why not start exploiting it? That’s what you ultimately set out to accomplish back in October, 2011 when you began “protecting the identity” of every signed in Google user.
Even back then it was a thinly veiled attempt to protect me and my identity (see: search trends) on the Internet. Strangely, my browser, operating system, mobile device, ISP, and location (just to name a few identifiers) are still capable of being easily found within Analytics.
Here’s the shocking thing: back on that fateful day when SEOs lost keyword data, I didn’t mind it happening–and I still don’t. I just don’t like being lied to about why and how it’s happening.
Come out and admit that this decision was to help drive people to use PPC and other forms of online advertising.
Or, maybe there is a larger goal: drum up interest in a paid version of Analytics? If so, stop making us wait and finally roll out a reasonably-priced (something everyone could afford) paid version of Analytics (not the $150,000 per year version). The time has come to start making money off one of the best *currently free* marketing tools in the world.
The thing is, I’m OK with that happening. I’ve spoken with clients who feel the same way.
We all see the rising percentage of (Not Provided) data, which is contrary to the initial trend estimate mentioned on Oct. 18, 2011 by the Analytics team. I believe the sentence was “keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic.” Sadly, the trend won’t reverse any time soon, unless people decide to start abandoning your products.
Keyword data is the heart and soul of Internet marketing and Google Analytics. Paid advertising does not make sense for every business, but paying for marketing data does. It’s time to release the (Not Provided) keyword data, even if that means we have to pay for it.